Mushy Minds from Sound Voids

Is it reasonable to expect that even a mild, untreated hearing loss can relate to the onset and development of dementia and cognitive confusion in older adults? The evidence from multiple research studies show quite clearly the answer is “Yes.”  
Mild hearing loss is characterized by ‘sound voids’ – periodic loss of clarity when certain speech sounds are lost or scrambled. The brain, the organ of message interpretation, is a greedy consumer of blood sugar and other bio-chemical resources. It has been estimated that attempting to convert a string of speech sounds and interpret them into the messages of speaker, up to 50% of the body’s available blood sugar may be consumed in the effort. When some of the elements of the acoustic stream are unavailable due to the typical pattern of a mild hearing loss, the effort to interpret is increased causing an additional strain on available resources.

The effect is twofold. First, the individual is likely to be more tired from the drain on blood sugar, and second there is a gradual reduction in the brain’s ability to interpret spoken messages. Ambiguity of received messages breeds a kind of ‘mushiness’ in the brain’s ability to interpret future spoken messages.
Recent reports from Johns Hopkins University and from the University of Pennsylvania both provide clear indications that dementia and cognitive decline are accelerated rather dramatically in individuals with hearing loss.

These reports from medical journals, and picked up in by the New York Times and elsewhere, show that the degree of hearing loss appears to correlate directly with the likelihood and extent of mental decline in the elderly. Dr. Frank Lin, who directed the work at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues at the National Institute of Aging, show conclusively that hearing loss is a frequently underappreciated contributor to dementia. The 12- year study of hundreds of patients showed that the risk of dementia Doubled with Mild Hearing loss, tripled with Moderately Severe loss, and increase by fivefold for individuals with Severe levels of hearing loss!
The good news is properly fit hearing aids have been repeatedly shown to reconstruct vital links in interpersonal communication and support mental wellness.

Direct clinical experience with thousands of patients at the Family Hearing Centers in Colorado, has shown repeatedly that clients with properly fit hearing systems are less likely to be exhausted at the end of the day. The reduction in effort to keep up with the rapidly changing patterns of sounds that constitute spoken messages, leaves more energy for successful living.

For clinical references on this important work contact:

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